Week 12 SEC Power Rankings: Iron Bowl will settle race for No. 1
Cupcake Saturday yielded a few puzzles (Mississippi State/Arkansas, anyone?), but mostly confirmation of the gap between the SEC’s top teams and the rest. With just one regular-season game to go, where do the league’s teams rank? Here’s our crack at it.
14. Vanderbilt (4-7, lost to Missouri 45-17)
The Commodores have slowly dropped until they can’t drop anymore. Getting smoked by Mizzou and Kentucky at home in consecutive weeks is a pretty conclusive way to establish bad-ness. Yet a bowl bid still is possible.
13. Tennessee (4-7, lost to LSU 30-10)
The good news for Tennessee is that somebody has to win an SEC game next week. The Vols would seem to have a slight advantage facing Vandy for the bottom spot in the SEC.
12. Florida (4-6, defeated UAB 36-7)
So Randy Shannon’s first three games at Florida have been a disastrous defeat, a hard-fought loss, and then a lopsided win. It’s hard to believe this Florida team could put up 36 points on a junior high team, but they played probably their best game of the season. Too bad they waited until nobody cared.
11. Arkansas (4-7, lost to Mississippi State 28-21)
The Razorbacks fought, dug and played a much superior Mississippi State team to a near draw, only to have their hearts broken late. Even when Arkansas played over its head, it messed it up in the end. What a tough season.
10. Ole Miss (5-6, lost to Texas A&M 31-24)
The Rebels are clearly better than the teams ranked under them. Consider how entertaining they have been to watch, it’s a shame they’re not allowed to go bowling, because they’d be more fun than some of the teams that will play in bowls.
9. Missouri (6-5, defeated Vanderbilt 45-17)
For every team that didn’t surprise at any point this season, there’s a Missouri to counter. The Tigers looked as bad as last year or worse for much of the first half of the season. Now, they look like they might be the second best team in the East. They earned this bowl.
8. Kentucky (7-4, lost to Georgia 42-13)
Georgia being better than Kentucky wasn’t a surprise, but the margin (504-262 in yardage) between the 1st and 3rd teams in the SEC East is telling. As we’ve maintained, Kentucky is either at the bottom of the league’s decent teams or at the top of the not-so-decent ones.
7. Texas A&M (7-4, defeated Ole Miss 31-24)
A weird game this week mirrored a weird season. After a first half in which Nick Starkel and Jordan Ta’amu led dueling Air Raids, in the second half, defenses controlled and the Aggies put up a 10-0 advantage. Kevin Sumlin probably needs a win over LSU to keep his job, but this isn’t a bad team at all.
6. South Carolina (8-3, defeated Wofford 31-10)
Carolina looks like a slightly better version of Kentucky. They make enough plays to beat bad teams, they’re still legitimately outclassed against the SEC’s heavyweights. It’s worth wondering if an all-star team of the rest of the East could beat Georgia.
5. Mississippi State (8-3, defeated Arkansas 28-21)
The Bulldogs lose some style points for this one. They had a definite letdown after the Alabama game, but they have to avoid fumbling four times. The lack of a superior passing game separates Hail State from the SEC’s Big 3, and games like this display some consistency issues.
4. LSU (8-3, defeated Tennessee 30-10)
LSU again had a slightly uneven performance, but it’s beaten bad teams by three scores each of the past two weeks. At this point, they’re the only team outside the league’s Big 3 to beat one of the Big 3. Good enough for us.
3. Georgia (10-1, defeated Kentucky 42-13)
After a fairly sloppy start, the Bulldogs imposed their will on Kentucky, as they have imposed their will on everybody not named Auburn. But can they pull out something different for Alabama or a rematch with Auburn? If not, they’re stuck at third.
2. Auburn (9-2, defeated UL-Monroe 42-14)
A solid week for Auburn, as the Tigers show nothing to move them out of second place. Is Auburn better than Alabama? In a 7-game series, it would be highly doubtful. In one game? They’re good enough to win, although that’s far from an endorsement or a guarantee.
1. Alabama (11-0, defeated Mercer 56-0)
We learned nothing about No. 1 Alabama, except that the Tide might be a tad more focused this weekend than Auburn was. They’re still the best until somebody proves otherwise.